THOUSAND OAKS, Calif. -- With rookie Terrell Lewis checking in at 6-5 and 262 pounds, it’s no wonder Los Angeles Rams defensive tackle Michael Brockers jokingly thought his employer drafted his replacement at first sight of the University of Alabama product.
“He’s a massive dude,” Brockers said. “First, I was like, ‘Yeah, that’s the guy that they’ve got replacing me.’ Then I saw him at outside linebacker, and I was like, ‘What? What’s up?’ (laughs). But he’s picking up stuff very well.”
It’s easy to understand the Rams’ attraction to the physically imposing Lewis. He posted a 37-inch vertical jump at the NFL Scouting Combine, demonstrating an impressive explosiveness for his size.
And with Clay Matthews Jr. and Dante Fowler Jr. gone, the Rams need to develop some young pass rushers behind projected starters Leonard Floyd and Samson Ebukam.
Lewis also provides versatility because of how the Crimson Tide distributed his playing snaps.
“At Alabama they used me everywhere along the front seven and I was 10 pounds lighter,” Lewis said. “So even me putting on this weight, my mindset was, I want to be able to be a guy where a coach can say, ‘I can put him at stacked linebacker, I could put him at a three-tech -- I could put him anywhere across the front seven -- because he's athletic enough to drop in space and move around and play in space, but then he's also athletic enough and strong enough and powerful enough to play anywhere along the front line.’”
Projected by some NFL draft analysts as a first round talent, there’s a reason someone as much upsid as Lewis is selected in the third round. For Lewis, his injury history plummeted him down the draft board.
Lewis only played in four games in 2017 due to a right elbow injury and missed the entire 2018 season with a torn ACL in his right knee.
However, the Washington D.C. native managed to stay healthy last season, posting 31 tackles – including 11.5 tackles for loss – and six sacks, earning All-SEC, second-team honors.
Now, Lewis is out to prove that he can be a productive player in the NFL. Davis points to long, angular pass rushers like the Minnesota Vikings pass rusher Danielle Hunter, former Dallas Cowboys and Denver Broncos edge rusher DeMarcus Ware, Arizona Cardinals outside linebacker Chandler Jones and Za’ Darius Smith of the Green Bay Packers as examples of the type of players he can become.
“I take it as a chip on my shoulder,” Lewis said. “But at the same time, I don’t want to prove it to nobody but myself. So, I go in every day with the mindset, compete with yourself. I don’t have nothing to prove to anybody but myself, and basically just prove to myself.
“I know where I should have been taken at. I know my value, I know my worth and eventually it will come out and it will be exposed. But mentally, obviously things like that, when you grow up as a kid and have a dream of knowing where you want to be and it doesn’t go as planned, it doesn’t do anything but motivate you.”